So there I was, at Faneuil Hall, to hear our former
governors discuss "the attainment of the American dream."
The event also celebrated the 10th anniversary of CommonWealth, an
outstanding magazine with intelligent, balanced discussion of "politics,
ideas and civic life" in Massachusetts.
When the magazine was launched by the Massachusetts Institute for a New
Commonwealth (MassINC), I expected a quarterly liberal rant, and have
been pleasantly surprised. Its first issue featured an article on
Proposition 2½, and the latest issue has a fun map of Bay State politics
that divides us into 10 states, ranging from "Bigger Boston" to
"Cranberry Country", to "Left Fields' (most of western Mass. plus
Somerville, Cambridge and the Islands)), to "Stables and Subdivisions"
(usually called the North Shore).
MassINC was founded by wealthy entrepreneur Mitchell Kertzman soon after
the graduated income tax ballot campaign in 1994. I debated him at
various forums, including one in Salem at which he kept jabbing his
finger at me. I recall thinking that if he touched me with that finger
I'd break it, but am not sure if I said that out loud or just wish I
had. When rich guys who can afford high taxes argue for a system that
will eventually raise my taxes too, I get riled.
Anyhow, my side defeated the grad tax, and Mitch decided that the state
needed more in-depth debate than ballot questions can provide. Well-off
citizens and some businesses on both sides of various issues put their
own money into support for CommonWealth, and I occasionally contribute a
So, along with celebrating the anniversary, I was there to get my usual
big hug from my favorite governor, Ed King.
I'd prefer never to see Michael Dukakis again as long as I live, but
have not been able to avoid his media interviews criticizing the
Republican governors for not staying for two terms after they are
elected. This, you should recall, is the governor who remained in office
while he RAN FOR PRESIDENT, using the commonwealth for his campaign,
fudging the revenues, and hiding the bills, before returning to face the
fiscal crisis he created and raise our taxes twice before FINALLY
leaving the Statehouse!
So I figured I might enjoy a discussion about the American dream
featuring Dukakis and Bill Weld, who saved the commonwealth from the
Dukakis nightmare and helped repeal the Dukakis sales tax on services;
along with Paul Cellucci, who helped us taxpayers put the rollback of
the Dukakis income-tax hike on the ballot.
Alas, it was not to be. Gov. King had to cancel because he was
recovering from a fall; and Weld, busy running for governor of New York,
just sent a videotape.
I still wanted to hear Tim King read a statement from his father, but 10
minutes into Mayor Menino's scheduled five-minute "greetings from the
city," I had an epiphany.
Well, actually, what I had was a sore behind, since I am still
recovering from my own fall that strained my hamstring and other nearby
muscles, and the folding chair was uncomfortable. But as the mayor
rambled on incomprehensibly, I suddenly realized that I have listened to
politicians droning on for too many hours of my precious, mortal life.
And I realized that after Tim King, it would be downhill to Dukakis,
then Cellucci (who was a good governor, but really should not have left
Jane Swift in charge of the commonwealth), and finally Swift herself,
whom I have not forgiven for refusing to commute the sentence of Gerald
And though I had been looking forward to the after-forum reception, I
realized that if I left immediately I could grab a treat at Quincy
Market and get on the T before rush hour. So I have to tell you that I
can't give you a firsthand account of the former governors' remarks.
However, my associate, Chip Faulkner, stayed for most of it, and said
Dukakis got away with his self-congratulatory presentation with little
contradiction from the other governors, with one exception.
The State House News Service reported that Dukakis, referring to the new
health-care bill, said his own version would have been more workable "if
Weld hadn't screwed it up."
Cellucci, as recent ambassador to Canada, rebutted this by speaking
knowledgeably about that country's system of socialized medicine. He
noted that patients in Ottawa often cross the border for an MRI rather
than wait for months to get one at home.
But not knowing when to stop, he then advocated open borders with Canada
and Mexico, basically arguing for one, big, happy North American
Great: Then not only will it be "for English, press 1" and "for Spanish,
press 2," we can add, "for French, press 3".
The Massachusetts Senate just passed some budget provisions aimed at
discouraging illegal immigration. However, it also continued its support
for broken promises by voting unanimously to keep what's left of the
Dukakis "temporary" income-tax hike until who knows when, and passed a
primary seat-belt law despite long-ago assurances that this would never
happen. Fortunately the seat-belt law was blocked by the Massachusetts
It's these small, occasional victories that keep me from walking out of
Massachusetts politics altogether.
Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her syndicated columns appear weekly in the Salem
News, Newburyport Times, Gloucester Times, (Lawrence) Eagle-Tribune, and Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Providence
Journal and other newspapers.